Essential Tips on Road Tripping Australia

Going on a road trip can be very exciting, and Australia offers plenty to get excited about for road trip explorers. Along with sunbleached blacktops, you’ll find picture-perfect beaches, hip cities, lush rainforests, the Great Barrier and lots of wildlife. The East of Australia, however, is perhaps the most popular route if you’re interested in backpacking and traveling since it offers visitors so much to see and do. An East Coast Australia road trip will give you a great taste of everything Australia has to offer from cosmopolitan cities, iconic sights, pristine beaches, ancient rainforests, and world-class natural wonders. Whether you fly, get a campervan, car or use trains, it’s easy to get around this stunning part of the world and see the main sights. If you have time, road tripping Australia through its vast and varied route is a fantastic way to see the changing landscape from coastlines to rainforests. If you’re there for a shorter time frame, then flying up or down the coast is the perfect way to cover more ground.   

Planning Your Road Tripping Australia Adventure

Road Trip NT to QLD Australia. Road Tripping Australia
Road Trip NT to QLD Australia. Flickr: Conrad Petzsch-Kunze / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When’s the best time to travel East Australia?

Road tripping Australia East Coast is a must do when visiting. You could do this route in either direction; but it’s really important to think about the time of year that you plan on road tripping Australia – if it’s winter (June – August), then you should start off in tropical north Queensland and work your way down to the colder south. If it’s summer, then Melbourne or Sydney would be the best starting points.

Visiting during the summer also allows visitors to experience the wonderful world of wine tasting. The Audrey Wilkinson winery, for example, makes handmade wines using state-of-the-art techniques that produce award-winning drinks. A rule of thumb when wine tasting: don’t wear perfume, and don’t wear lipstick; otherwise, you could alter the flavors.

How long does it take to travel through East Australia?

Most travelers don’t realize just how big Australia really is. The distance between Cairns and Melbourne on the coastal route is just over 3,500 km (2,174 m), which is about a 40-hour drive. You could drive it in a week, but that would leave no time at all for you to see or do anything on the way. If you’re going to drive that long, wouldn’t you want to get the most of your trip? If it’s within your budget, consider getting a camper, also known as a caravan, in Australia. That way you have access to a travel trailer whenever you need it. In Australia, you’ll more than likely find caravans that resemble campers here in the U.S., so size shouldn’t be an issue.

In two weeks, you could easily check off all the main sights, but road tripping Australia slow allows you to meet people and really soak up the place. Experience the East Australian life for what it is. If you have more time to spend traveling, then you have time to see a lot more popular sights.

Traveling by Bus

If road tripping Australia isn’t an option, then don’t worry, you can also take the Greyhound bus. If doing so, make sure you purchase a pass rather than buying a ticket to go from point-to-point. That way you’ll get the best deals and travel with other internationals travelers like you. Australian bus passes also allow travelers to accumulate kilometers for accommodation, language classes, and even camper van hire.

Greyhound Short Hop Passes offer the lowest price and with 30-day validity. Then you can spend as much time as you like exploring your favorite places.


Picnic lunch. Road Tripping Australia
Picnic lunch. Flickr: AMY LISCOMB / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Go grocery shopping. Make sure you buy your food where the locals do: at the supermarket. Instead of paying for your hotel’s expensive breakfast, pick up a loaf of fresh bread at the local market and keep it in your room for an early morning meal. Add some meat and cheese and you’ve got yourself a picnic lunch.

Don’t over-tip. Tipping is generally not required in Australia, though it’s becoming a growing trend in the restaurant industry. If you’re pleased with your waiter or waitress, a 10-15 percent tip will be highly appreciated. Tipping also isn’t necessary at bars.

Where to stay on Australia’s East Coast?

Road Tripping Australia. Apollo Hitop Campervan.
Apollo Hitop Campervan. Flickr: apollo motorhomes / CC BY-ND 2.0

You have many options when you choose to travel; and most visitors, no matter where they’re going are usually worried about the cost of traveling, but there are many ways that you can make this trip of a lifetime more affordable.

For instance, a campervan is the best way to save money. In Australia, there are tons of free and low-cost campsites all across the continent. These places only require that campers bring the basics, such as flashlights, first aid kits, packs of matches, and sleeping bags. Some spots, in fact, come equipped with a full bathroom.

On the contrary, however, you can’t just pop up and sleep anywhere. Fortunately, there are sites and guidebooks that offer free information on campsites to travelers. Some guides even offer maps and contain points of interest. Guidebooks are really useful for helping visitors to navigate different areas, and with a limited phone reception outside of town, having a guide is a necessity.

If you’ve got a station wagon, you can toss a mattress in the back. If you have a smaller vehicle, getting a cheap tent is the way to go. Making your sleeping arrangements on your trip low-cost will allow you to splurge on other aspects of your vacation.  

Visiting the Beach?

East Coast Australia. Road Tripping Australia
East Coast Australia. Flickr: David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

Australia is known for its beaches; ultra white sand and bucket list diving. Sounds like paradise, right? Wrong. Like many things in Australia, the ocean can also be a life-threatening experience unless you follow some simple rules:

  • Swim between the flags. To begin with, you should always make sure you swim in a patrolled beach. When traveling around Australia, you might notice that not all beaches have staff patrolling around. This is because some of the beaches are far too dangerous to swim at.
  • Beach and sun safety. The dangerous fun at the Australian beaches doesn’t end there. In other words, before you even enter the water you’re faced with extreme danger from the sun. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself from the sun and sand. Exposing your skin too much can lead to rashes, sunburns, and unwanted blisters.

That being said, to avoid looking like a total tourist – don’t get sunburnt and swim between the flags and make sure you enjoy your trip. Australia has some of world’s deadliest animals so you need to be careful in areas inhabited by wildlife. Even urban areas have reptiles which means just because you’re near a home, that doesn’t mean you should forget safety protocols.

About Herman Davis

H. Davis loves taking advantage of the sunny weather outside. If you can’t catch him online, you might be able to catch him out playing football with friends or cheering on the Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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